Narrative Obsession in the Post-Colonial Psyche

Narrative Obsession in the Post-Colonial Psyche

The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation

Yinka Shonibare CBE, Hybrid Mask (Koré) II and Hybrid Mask (Bamana Ntomo), 2023. Wood acrylic paint and brass. Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York.*

May 7, 2024
Narrative Obsession in the Post-Colonial Psyche
May 16–July 13, 2024
Add to Calendar
Opening reception: May 16, 6–8pm, RSVP requested
The 8th Floor
17 West 17th Street
10011 New York NY
Instagram / Facebook / Twitter

The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation is pleased to present Narrative Obsession in the Post-Colonial Psyche, a new group exhibition at The 8th Floor. Opening on May 16 from 6–8pm (RSVP) and on view through July 13, it will explore post-colonialism from the perspective of artists addressing the harmful global histories and present-day legacies of imperial subjugation. Featuring Firelei Báez, Gerard & Kelly, Brian Jungen, Hew Locke, Joiri Minaya, Frida Orupabo, Keith Piper, Umar Rashid, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Elisa Sighicelli, and Kara Walker.

Post-colonialism as an area of study began in the field of literature through an assessment of Western-centric projections onto characters in fiction. It has since expanded to include the disciplines of art, anthropology, philosophy, and sociology. A foundational text on the subject is Edward Said’s Orientalism, which exposed the European fantasies that denigrated colonial subjects through constant Othering and fetishization across Asia and the Middle East. Although many aspects of Said’s original argument have been refuted as restrictive in geographic, cultural, and religious scope, cultural institutions have been deconstructed through this metatheory since the early ‘80s.

Narrative Obsession excavates the layering of diverse histories through the impulses of artists engaged by works of literature in both fiction and fact. Artworks on view challenge institutional power structures, address problematic legacies of colonialism, and highlight the continuing colonial impact of industry and tourism on the environment. Unlike the literary tradition, artists are not confined to the theoretical strictures of research; their approach to the subject ranges from documentary-like narratives to a proliferation of fantastical ones, essentially reversing the European colonial gaze which governed, manipulated, or destroyed forms of cultural expression considered as “Other.”

Can there really be such a state as post-colonial when the systems of manipulation in poorer nations still give way to pricing and access determined by former colonists? Is post-colonialism instead discrete colonialism, where money funneled through companies is not explicitly sullying the reputation of identifiable nation states? Is it another type of fantasy, and ultimately just a narrative?

Narrative Obsession is curated by Anjuli Nanda Diamond and George Bolster, with programming to be announced soon (mailing list). To learn more about the works in the exhibition, please read the full press release here.

*Image description: The image is of two masks mounted on small black pedestals side by side, against a white background. Both sculptures are made of wood acrylic paint and brass, the mask on the left has red and yellow leaves against a light blue and white pattern, with an elongated nose and tall ears. The mask on the right has a pattern of swirly red branches against a light-yellow background, with tiny eye holes and more abstract elements on its head pointing upward, perhaps a helmet.

RSVP for Narrative Obsession in the Post-Colonial Psyche
The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation
May 7, 2024

Thank you for your RSVP.

The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.